Big Sam proud of Hammers' effort

Sam Allardyce was proud of his players' performances after the quickest goal of the Barclays Premier League season so far was all that separated them from Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

Robin van Persie's deflected effort in just the 32nd second of the match gave the hosts the lead. But while some teams may have been overawed and crumbled in the face of the talent boasted by the home side, Big Sam's team played some fine football and created several notable chances..

"It was obviously a problem to concede a goal inside the first minute but after that our response was really very good.

"I know that we didn't create very much - you never do here at Old Trafford - but we continued to try and grow into the game and we went looking for the equaliser towards the finish, too.

"We worked hard right to the very end and got better as an attacking force as the game went on. We tried to see if we could get the equaliser but we couldn't quite manage it.

"We created some chances - albeit not too many - but they weren't taken like the top boys, say, Manchester United or Chelsea.

After conceding three goals at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, Big Sam had said before the game that he expected to see more from his defensive unit and he certainly got that as the hosts were limited to just a handful of chances. When they did manage to break through, Jussi Jaaskelainen was on hand to make to pull off two stunning saves from Javier Hernandez and Anderson.

"They scored that early goal but after that I felt that our defensive structure was outstanding.

"What chances did Manchester United create tonight? The answer is not many apart from one or two Jussi Jaaskelainen saves and for 92 minutes - apart from a deflected goal - we were outstanding from a defensive viewpoint..

"We know that it's defensive solidarity in this league that will win you points and I think that the disappointing thing is that this is the first time for a while when Fergie has got a 'nil' against his side. They've been letting a few in lately but tonight they've got a clean sheet and won 1-0.

"Building on the base of a solid defensive unit is how we've got to pick up points because we haven't got the strikeforce that Manchester United have."

With the Hammers now well and truly into their testing run of fixtures, Big Sam's side will have undoubtedly drawn confidence from their performance as their thoughts turn to Saturday's London derby with Chelsea. Less than 200 tickets remain for that fixture, so any fan hoping to still come to the Boleyn Ground is advised to move fast to avoid missing out.

"We're disappointed. You could argue that if we'd got a drubbing it could destroy the players' confidence but if you defend well as we have done, it maintains confidence. We played against the champions, Manchester City, had a good goal disallowed and drew 0-0 and on Wednesday we lost to a deflected goal.

"We've now played the top two teams in the country and you could arguably say that we were unfortunate not to get another 0-0 against United."

After a week of where there has been much focus on the club, the travelling fans demonstrated why West Ham United supporters are famous the world over. From the first minute to last they outsung their hosts with 'We are West Ham's claret and blue army' reverberating around Old Trafford for a large proportion of the second half.

"They came out with some great songs and they were tremendous. They would be disappointed as we are but we've come to give it our best shot."